From Frank Brigtsen:
“I think gumbo is and should be a very traditional thing. It’s been around for a long, long time. It is the dish that really defines us as a culture. It’s unique to us.
From a flavor standpoint, my gumbos are everything you’d expect. All the ingredients are what you’d expect. What’s different is the method and the sequence in the way I handle the roux. The roux is essential. I think most people when they make gumbo start by making the roux, and then adding the vegetables and seasoning and stock, and build it up like that. I don’t do it that way.
I make a traditional chocolate-brown oil and flour roux, but I don’t add the vegetables to it. I make the roux by itself, then set it aside and let it cool, and I do that for two reasons. First, as it cools, it darkens, and quite a bit of the oil in the roux rises to the top, so I can discard it. It never gets in the gumbo. You wind up with a more vivid, clear sense of flavor because the oil isn’t there to coat the palate. Secondly, considering we cook with so much onion, celery, and bell pepper, we want to extract as much flavor with those vegetables as we can. I brown them until they caramelize. That adds a depth and dimension of flavor that I think is really essential to so many Louisiana dishes. If you add those vegetables directly to the roux, they don’t brown, they just steam, so you’re missing out on a major step of building flavor.
To me, great food isn’t always about some brilliant new concept of combining ingredients. It’s often little things that make a big difference. Cajun cuisine is a technique-driven cuisine, because it’s a very humble style of cooking. It’s about what can you do with humble ingredients like onions, celery, bell peppers, oil, and flour. How can you intensify flavors and create meals that are satisfying and hearty and make you happy.”
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- 1 pound andouille sausage or smoked sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups diced yellow onion
- 3 cups diced celery
- 2 cups diced green bell pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons filé powder
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon whole-leaf dried thyme
- 13 cups rabbit stock or low-sodium chicken stock
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 4 tablespoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic Seasoning
- 1 dressed domestic rabbit, cut into 6 pieces*
- Hot cooked rice
- Preheat oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, place andouille. Bake until well browned, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.
- In a large stockpot, heat oil over high heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add filé, garlic, salt, peppers, and thyme. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock, and bring to a boil. Add reserved andouille. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer. Skim off any oil that rises to the surface.
- While broth is simmering, heat 2 frying pans over medium heat. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches (about 2 cups per pan), and heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°. In a small rimmed baking sheet, combine 2 cups flour and Meat Magic seasoning. Lightly dredge rabbit in flour mixture. Place rabbit in hot oil, and fry until browned and crispy, turning once, about 5 minutes per side. Remove rabbit from oil, and let drain on paper towels; reserve oil. Add rabbit pieces to simmering broth, and cook, stirring occasionally, until rabbit is fully cooked and tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
- Remove cooked rabbit pieces from gumbo, and let cool. When rabbit is cool enough to handle, take meat off the bones, and set aside.
- After frying oil has cooled off a bit, slowly and carefully pour ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons oil into a heatproof measuring cup. Make sure no browned bits remain in reserved oil.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When skillet is smoking hot, add reserved oil. When oil is hot, whisk in remaining 1 cup flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until a peanut butter-colored roux forms. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is deep reddish brown. Remove from heat, and stir occasionally while letting cool in pan for 15 minutes. Skim and discard any oil that separates from the roux.
- Bring broth to a boil. Slowly and carefully add roux to boiling broth, a little bit at a time, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Skim off any excess oil that rises to the surface. Add reserved rabbit meat. Increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring gently, until rabbit is heated through. Serve immediately with hot cooked rice.
- *1 whole chicken cut into 6 pieces can be substituted.